Saturday, September 17, 2022

How Lauren Bacall Lit the "Joint" that Humphrey Bogarted

Lauren Bacall's birthday this week got me thinking about my theory that the famous line "Don't Bogart that Joint" came from the movie she did with Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep, in which she lights a cigarette for him while he is tied up, forcing him to say his lines through the rest of the scene with the cigarette dangling from his lips. 

I found an interview with "The Fraternity of Man" bandmember Lawrence "Stash" Wagner in "It's Psychedelic Baby" magazine that confirms my theory. Wagner said he "got down on my knees and begged" their ABC record label to put their song "Don't Bogart That Joint" on a single, agreeing to change the title to "Don't Bogart Me." When Peter Fonda put the song on the Easy Rider soundtrack, "Bogart" became a classic, later recorded by Little Feat and others.

On the origin on the song, Wagner said, "The band was smoking some pot in our rehearsal house up in Laurel Canyon, when Elliot [Ingber, the band's guitarist] turned to me and said, 'Hey man, don’t bogart that thing.' Elliot was always coming up with hypsterisms from the 1950’s and I loved adopting them. I asked him, what does ‘bogart’ mean? He said, 'You know, like Humphrey Bogart always had a cigarette in his hand or hanging from his lips when talking. Well, you were hanging onto that joint while your lips were flapping.' I said, 'Cool, we should write a song using Bogart.'" Three minutes later, the band had written the song.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Long Live King Charles and His Environmentalist / Pro-Pot Stances?

More news from the UK: just after the country's second female Prime Minister took office, Queen Elizabeth has died after 70 years of her reign, and her son Prince Charles, 73, is the new King. He will presumably be coronated using the holy anointing oil, as his mother was. 

In December 1998, Charles surprised a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer by suggesting she try medical marijuana. Karen Drake, 36, said: "He said he had heard it was the best thing for relief from MS." 

Rita Marley with Charles in 2000. 
In February 2000, he visited Trench Town, Jamaica, the neighborhood of late reggae legend Bob Marley, and was greeted by Marley's widow and Tokin' Woman Rita Marley, who gave Charles a red, yellow and green Rastafarian knit hat with false dreadlocks. The prince put it on, and said, "I'll tell you who would really love that—my children." Marley said her husband would have been amazed by the royal visit to the neighborhood. "Boy, he'd burn a spliff to this - a big, big spliff,'' she said, "Rastafari lives!''*

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

New UK PM Liz Truss U-Turned on Marijuana

UPDATE 10/20: Truss has announced she will resign her post. Boris Johnson is expected to stand in the Tory leadership contest to replace his successor Truss. Others are calling for a general election.

You knew she was in trouble when, entering the Queen's funeral, she was misidentified as a minor Royal. 

Former UK Environment and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been appointed as the UK's new prime minister after winning the Conservative Party leadership election that followed Boris Johnson's ouster. 

Truss was criticized during her campaign for flip-flopping politically, since while at Oxford University, she was president of the university branch of the Liberal Democratic Party. According to ABC News, "The economically centrist Lib Dems back constitutional reform and civil liberties, and Truss was an enthusiastic member, putting up 'Free the Weed' posters that called for decriminalization of marijuana and arguing in a speech for the abolition of the monarchy."  

After graduating college, Truss went to work for Shell Oil and became a conservative. Of late, she's been modeling herself after Britain's first female prime minister Margaret Thatcher, down to imitating her hairstyle and dress. 

In a 2001 interview with NME magazine Truss was asked for her opinion on marijuana legalization and replied, "I don't agree with it. Where do you stop?" (In the same interview, Truss confirmed Macy Gray to be a favorite musician. Perhaps she hasn't heard Gray's song, "Stoned.")

Truss balked when UK territory Bermuda voted to legalize cannabis in May 2022. After Governor Rena Lalgie blocked the law and asked for approval from the foreign secretary, talks were held but no decision was announced. (See update.)

Thursday, September 1, 2022

The "Bebop Baroness" Who Took a Pot Rap for Thelonious Monk

Baroness Pannonica "Nica" Rothschild was born in 1913 into one of the wealthiest families in the world. In 1935 she married a French diplomat/Baron Jules de Koenigswarter with whom she had five children. An aviation enthusiast and an accomplished pilot, Nica worked for Charles de Gaulle's Free French Army during WWII, serving in various functions such as ambulance driver and ending the war as a decorated lieutenant. Her husband’s extended family, as well as her Hungarian-born mother’s, were nearly all killed in the Holocaust.

Nica and her husband separated in 1951, and she left him to move to New York City, causing her to be disinherited by her family. In the 2009 BBC documentary "The Jazz Baroness," produced by her grandniece Hannah Rothschild and narrated by Helen Mirren, Nica is quoted saying, "My husband liked military drum music; he hated jazz. He used to break my records when I was late for dinner. I was frequently late for dinner." 

In New York, Nica became a serious jazz aficionado, befriending and patronizing leading musicians like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, to whom she was introduced by Tokin' Woman Mary Lou Williams in 1954. "I never sorted out the role of 'freedom fighter,'" she said. "But once I got here, I did see that an awful lot of help was needed. I couldn't just stand by and watch."

When Parker died in Nica's hotel room after a heroin-related illness that she and her daughter nursed him through, the salacious headlines screamed, "The Bird and the Baronesses's Boudoir" and one paper wrote, "Blinded and bedazzled by this luscious, slinky, black-haired, jet-eyed Circe of high society, the Yardbird was a fallen sparrow." Walter Winchell, the powerful columnist who inspired Burt Lancaster's character in Sweet Smell of Success, pursued and persecuted her in his column as a dealer of drugs.

Nica and Thelonious
She and Monk became inseparable, despite the fact that he was a married man. She enthused, "If there were seven wonders of the world, then I think Thelonious was the eighth. He helped you see the music inside the music. And his music itself made me see possibilities in life and ways of living that I never dreamed of." In 1957, she bought a new piano for the famous Five Spot club because she thought the existing one was not good enough for Monk's performances there. He wrote songs like "Pannonica" for her.

In October 1958, Monk was experiencing "periods of mania and psychological withdrawal" when Nica drove him and fellow musician Charlie Rouse to a Delaware gig in her Bentley. According to Nica's Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness by David Kastin, accounts vary as to what happened after Monk entered the segregated Park Plaza Motel in New Castle along the way looking for a bar, but the police were called and he was escorted to Nica's car in the parking lot. The threesome was permitted to drive away, but soon afterwards the Bentley was pulled over and Monk, who refused to leave the car, was forcibly removed and thrown to the ground, with one cop beating on his hands with a billy club while Nica screamed for them to stop. When he was handcuffed and driven away in a patrol car, "I feared they would take him off and kill him," she said.